If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away---Henry David Thoreau

Friday, July 10, 2009

You meet the most interesting people in life

This morning I happened to come across the 1979 movie Norma Rae on TV and watched it again. I saw and old friend on the TV screen---Greg Walcott. Greg was a character actor for many years and had numerous roles on TV and in movies. His roles were often in westerns, like Bonanza, Maverick, Wagon Train, the Rifleman, and Rawhide, shows my dad loved to watch in my childhood years. Greg also played in a number of Clint Eastwood movies, like Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, Joe Kidd, and Any Which Way But Loose. He is probably best known for his role in the cult film Plan 9 from Outerspace and made a cameo appearance in the movie Ed Wood about the film's producer, starring Johhny Depp and directed by Tim Burton.

I know Greg from having worked with him as a co-pastor of Central Baptist Church in Burbank, California in 1983. Following seminary I ended up as a co-pastor of my home congregation, a bad idea. My "new fangled" ideas and theology got me in a heap of trouble until I was forced to resign. I had been looking for a church position after 3 years of painting signs, "busting tires," and hanging out of helicopters, when my brother mentioned my name to Greg, who was his pastor, as a possible co-pastor of a small Southern Baptist congregation he had been preparing to take in a new, creative direction. In the congregation were some young men trying to break into acting and several musicians, including the bass player and guitarist for rocker Rod Stewart's band. Being a creative person myself Greg and I hit it off right away and I was called to be part of the pastoral team in Burbank. My areas of responsibility were with the youth and education programs.

Feeling the freedom to be creative I probably went overboard when I was given an opportunity to design a series of creative services with contemporary music, illustrated bulletins, diverse liturgical styles. I think it was probably a bit much for those Southern Baptists who thought they were ready for something new. They weren't really ready for the new things that both Greg and I were offering. So, Greg ended up resigning about the time I was called to my first lead pastoral role in the Bay area. I have not seen Greg since then, except in an occasional movie.

Seeing Greg in Norma Rae in my livingroom this morning caused me to reflect on the many interesting, creative people I have encountered and been graced by in my life and 36 years of church ministry (see the short list of some friends on the side of this blog). I guess it's because I am winding up many years of church ministry and will be making another of the moves that have bounced me across California and the U.S. I have had the good fortune to have met many wonderful people in my life and ministry, along with a number of real *%$#!, some who I probably will never see again this side of eternity. So, I wonder what interesting people will cross my path as I move on to Portland, Oregon?

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